Friday, June 5, 2020

Penis Candle Toad Venom WHUT???

Possible captions include "Don't lick it, man!" and "Does this toad look high to you?"

This story from AV Club seemingly has it all - penis candles, rituals, toad venom, and manslaughter. Oh, and Spain. If you're wondering what the hell I'm going on about, you're not alone. But here's deal, according to the article:

Today, in ritualistic toad venom death news: A man best known as a prominent Spanish adult film actor—but who also has a sideline selling candles shaped like his own penis—has been arrested on charges of involuntary manslaughter in relation to, well, a death from ritualistic toad venom ingestion.

Ignacio “Nacho” Vidal—a well-known porn performer with several AVN awards, and more than 1,500 credits to his name—was, per The Guardian this week, reportedly arrested in relation to the death of photographer José Luis Abad, in July of last year. Abad died after inhaling vaporized secretions from Incilius alvarius, a species of North American toad that secretes multiple hallucinogenic compounds (and also a few different potentially lethal poisons) when threatened.

Incilius alvarius (a.k.a. the Colorado River toad) has a long and complicated history as a controlled substance (or provider of same), and is both endangered and illegal to transport in a number of states. In addition, Bufotenin, one of the primary hallucinogens excreted by the animal, is considered a Class I controlled substance in the U.S., although it’s not immediately clear whether it carries similar restrictions in Spain, where Abad’s death occurred.

Spanish police have arrested three people in relation to the incident, with Vidal believed to be one of them. Police have accused Vidal of serving as a guide for a “mystical ritual” using the venom, and argue that he encouraged participation from “highly suggestible people who were especially vulnerable and were seeking alternative ways to cure certain ailments or addictions.” (They also claimed he downplayed the potential lethality of the secretions.)

I like to joke that whoever figured out that this one toad got you high must have gone around licking all sorts of things before they figured it out. Yeah, most people just point out that they probably tried to cook and eat a toad, or got the venom on their hands or something. That's probably true. But I prefer to imagine some gonzo hippie wandering around the American southwest licking everything in sight to see if it might work as an entheogen. That's funnier, man!

More seriously, stuff like this is why I'm not a fan of entheogens of whatever sort in magical workings. Not all of them are dangerous like toad venom, but the idea that magick and/or mysticism is about nothing more than getting high or distorting your perceptions is profoundly limited. Yes, you can test information obtained during a drug-induced experience and it can be valid, but in my experience most of the folks who are into that don't do it. So they have no idea whether their "realizations" are purely microcosmic - that is, limited to their own psyches - or reveal anything significant about the macrocosmic universe.

When working with spirits, it's just a problem. One of the hardest things to learn in spirit work is distinguishing your own thoughts from spirit communications. And yes, even if you train your brain to externalize like the "eyes-open scrying" folks, it's no less of an issue. Anything altering your consciousness is going to interfere with that ability and make the work that much harder, and there's no evidence out there that I know of that shows you can increase your probability shifts by taking drugs. If I'm wrong and that information is out there, I would love to hear about. But I don't think it exists.

At any rate, I'll add that a penis candle guru sounds like exactly the sort of person who would get into trouble over a toad-licking incident, you know? He's exactly the right type. And while I believe that people have the right to do what they want with their bodies, if Abad was misled about how dangerous the venom was, Vidal should face some legal consequences for his role in Abad's death.

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Roger Bacon said...

Mr. Stenwick I just became aware of your work recently and it's fantastic. I made it through both of your Enochian books very quickly and I can't wait for your new Enochian book on the Aires. Tell your publisher to hurry up!

Scott Stenwick said...

Thank you very much! And believe me, I want them to get the new book out ASAP just like everybody else does.